Doctor's Notes on Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs. The pandemic COVID-19 coronavirus causes severe lung symptoms, including pneumonia, in about 16%-20% of patients. Common symptoms and signs of pneumonia may include
- sputum production,
- pleuritic chest pain (chest pain increases with inspiration),
- fever, and
- shortness of breath.
In addition, severe pneumonia symptoms and signs may include
- high fever,
- extreme difficulty breathing that requires breathing assistance (intubation),
- extreme weakness, and/or
- eventual death.
Causes of pneumonia are usually one of the following: viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infection of one or both lungs.
- Viral causes include flu viruses, respiratory syncytial viruses, adenoviruses, rhinoviruses, and others.
- Common bacterial causes include Streptococcus, Klebsiella, Haemophilus, Mycoplasma, Legionella, and Pneumocystis bacterial infections.
- Fungal infections that are causes of pneumonia can include fungi that cause histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, blastomycosis, aspergillosis, and cryptococcosis.
- Parasitic causes of pneumonia include Ascaris, Schistosoma, and Toxoplasma; such parasitic pneumonias are rarely seen in the U.S.
What Are the Treatments for Pneumonia?
Pneumonia treatments mainly depend on the type and severity of disease. Age and other health conditions may also influence treatments. The main types of pneumonias and examples of their treatments are as follows:
- Viral: antivirals and pooled IgG from people who have survived pneumonia (for example, COVID-19 survivors) like remdesivir, pooled plasma
- Bacterial: antibiotics like azithromycin
- Yeast or fungi: antifungal agents like fluconazole
- Parasites: antiparasitic agents like chloroquine
Many pneumonias resolve with oral agents. However, severe pneumonias often require IV drugs, supplemental oxygen, mechanically assisted ventilation, and other supportive care to help the patient survive. Critical care specialists help choose the treatments for severe pneumonias.
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.